Tiny Homes, by Lloyd Kahn — exclusive image gallery excerpt

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Sauna in Queen Charlotte Islands by Colin Doane. Lashed to front rafters are green whale jawbones. (From p. 133 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

Here's a preview of our friend Lloyd Kahn's beautiful book, Tiny Homes.

Cover-1 There's a grassroots movement in tiny homes these days. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, burning out on 12-hour workdays – many people are rethinking their ideas about shelter – seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home.

In this book are some 150 builders who have taken things into their own hands, creating tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). Homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses.

There are 1,300 photos, showing a rich variety of small homemade shelters, and there are stories (and thoughts and inspirations) of the owner-builders who are on the forefront of this new trend in downsizing and self-sufficiency.

At the heart of our 1973 book Shelter were drawings of 5 small buildings, which we recommended as a starting point in providing one's own home. Now, almost 40 years later, there's a growing tiny house movement all over the world – which we've been tracking over the past two years.

Many people have decided to scale back, to get by with less stuff, to live in smaller homes. You can buy a ready-made tiny home, build your own, get a kit or pre-fab, or live in a bus, houseboat, or other movable shelter. Some cities have special ordinances for building "inlaw" or "granny flats" in the back yard. There are innovative solutions in cities, such as the "capsules" in Tokyo. There are numerous blogs and websites with news, photos, and/or plans for tiny homes, documented here.

If you're thinking of scaling back, you'll find plenty of inspiration here. Here's a different approach, a 180º turn from increasing consumption. Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who've achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.

Buy Tiny Homes at Amazon.com

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Wolf Brooks and Lyle Congdon built this cabin on a trailer and trucked it from Colorado, to Santa Fe, NM. (From p. 53 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Pallet house by I-Beam Design (from p. 70 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Cabin in Montana mountains designed by Jeff Shelden (from p. 70 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Interior of a treehouse built in Carbondale, CO by architect Stephen A. Novy (from pp. 152-153 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Electric car designed by San Francisco builder Jay Nelson (from p. 181 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Builder SunRay Kelley built this "man cave" for a family in Middleton, California (interior). (From p. 100 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)

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Exterior view of SunRay Kelley's "man cave." (From p. 101 of Tiny Homes by Lloyd Kahn)